KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — In a unanimous vote by the Kalamazoo Public Schools board of trustees has chosen a new superintendent.

Darrin Slade, the deputy superintendent for a Missouri school district, was chosen to lead KPS in a Thursday evening meeting.

Slade comes from Hazelwood Public School District, right outside of St. Louis. He has also worked as an assistant superintendent of instructional leadership for Kansas City Public Schools and has 16 years of experience as an elementary, middle and high school principal for District of Columbia Public Schools.

“This individual is credited with the most improved graduation rate in the DC metro area for three years straight, from a 44% to 76%, again leading by track record,” said Jermaine Jackson, vice president of Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Trustees.

The vote came Thursday night after close to an hour of discussion between board members, mostly praising Slade.

“He was hired to do achievement and he had done that in his district, he’s also from a district that’s a similar size to ours, so he has experience with that,” said Jennie Hill, a member of the Kalamazoo Board of Trustees.

When Slade arrives, board president TiAnna Harrison said he will have a number of challenges to address and the board believes they have the right person for the job.

“He has the potential to increase graduation rates, attendance rates, but really just the morale of students and family and that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking to bring this community together in the best interest of children,” she said.

Slade holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Towson University, a master’s in teaching from John Hopkins University and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Maryland, KPS said.

“My duty in this life is to provide support to and bring compassion for the needs of students. That’s what drives me. I look at all students like they are my own,” said Dr. Slade during a May 8 interview with the district.

Slade was selected after several rounds of interviews and meetings that started in February.

He will now enter contract negotiations with KPS. The board will vote on a contract at a public meeting, possibly as early as the next regular school board meeting on May 18, KPS said.

Slade will become the first black man in Kalamazoo Public Schools history to serve as superintendent.

He will replace the previous superintendent of KPS, Rita Raichoudhuri, Ed.D., who resigned in December in what the district called a “mutual decision.” She had been the superintendent of the KPS since 2020. Cindy Green, who worked as a KPS assistant superintendent for teaching and learning services has been acting as interim superintendent in the meantime.